An Oregon judge who works as a court referee is accused of helping an illegal immigrant from Mexico escape from her courtroom as immigration officials waited to arrest him and possibly deport him.
Judge Monica Herranz was hearing the case of Diddier Pacheco Salazar, 22, on January 27 in Multnomah County, Oregon. Salazar was in court regarding a DUI he had been charged with on January 1.
U.S. Attorney Billy Williams told KOIN that the only way Salazar could have escaped the agents, as the Multnomah County Circuit Court has three doors - one for the public, a private judge entrance and one for inmates to be brought in from jail, would have been Herranz helping him escape through another door. He told FOX 12, “I felt that it was inappropriate and delegitimizes the work of ICE agents who are out there doing their jobs. When you’re talking about the judicial system - whether it’s federal or by state - you have an expectation that people are going to abide by the law and not take steps based on their own motivations, their own politics.”
Salazar’s court-appointed attorney, John Schlosser, said he and Salazar knew plainclothes ICE agents were waiting outside the courtroom. Schlosser told Willamette Week, "I prepped my client. I said, 'I don't know if they're going to pick you up outside or what, but here's how to prepare.’ After the court appearance, I went out in the hallway and sat. My client never came out. I can't say that I'm surprised he didn't come out, but I gave him his options, and assume he had to have been escorted out some other way."
A court referee is a contract judge who handles lower-level criminal, civil and family court cases. Herranz serves on the board of the Oregon Hispanic Bar Association; she is being investigated internally by Chief Judge Nan Waller.
"You have an expectation that people are going to abide by the law and not take steps based on their own motivations, their own politics.”
U.S. Attorney Billy Williams
Two weeks after he evaded ICE agents, Salazar was arrested when he made another court appearance. Salazar is currently being held in Tacoma Northwest Detention Center in Washington.